AFN should replay Dunleavy's latest recall complaints for convention delegates
Everyone at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Fairbanks should have a chance to see the distorted portrayal Gov. Mike Dunleavy is giving right-wing media outlets Outside about the reasons for the recall campaign against him.
The latest example is this 10-minute video interview with the Daily Caller, in which Dunleavy makes many false claims about what has happened in Alaska during the past year.
This interview ought to be played at the Carlson Center before he speaks at 9 a.m. so those attending the convention can see how his in-person message differs from the fable he is selling Outside.
In the past couple of weeks, Dunleavy has made the same presentation on a variety of national right-wing platforms, where everything he says is accepted as absolute truth.
He invariably suggests that like President Trump, he is being persecuted by dishonest “folks on the left” and that the recall is the Alaska version of the Trump impeachment, an unfair campaign to undo the results of the 2018 election.
Just like Trump, he says, he is a victim of unfair media coverage. Those who oppose him are special interests that “want government to be big.”
By aligning himself with the president and seeking the national spotlight, Dunleavy may be auditioning for a job with the stable genius or just trying to get Trump supporters Outside to see him as a kindred spirit who deserves cash contributions to fight the recall.
His victimization campaign, which is to include a trip to Washington, D.C. and New York for more interviews, is not aimed at an Alaska audience, a tactic reminiscent of former Gov. Sarah Palin.
The situation is a great deal more complicated than the simple story he is telling Outside.
Dunleavy claims that what he has done as governor is exactly what he promised to do as a candidate. That’s not true.
He claims that the budget he introduced in February was in keeping with his campaign promises. That’s not true.
The truth is that he promised painless budget cuts, no taxes, and no cuts to schools, the University of Alaska, the ferry system, the Pioneer Homes and more. The evidence about the fiscal fantasy at the heart of his campaign was overwhelming, though it received little news coverage.
Dunleavy never mentions the real factors that allowed the recall campaign to grow into a powerful political force with nearly 50,000 Alaskans signing the petition in little more than a month.
Here are 11 of the many reasons for the recall that he doesn’t talk about:
His attempt to confiscate $420 million in property taxes from local governments. “This bill would repeal the ability of municipalities to levy tax on these properties of vital statewide importance,” Dunleavy wrote about Senate Bill 57, the oil and gas tax confiscation measure. Sen. Donny Olson said it was a declaration of war on rural Alaska.
His attempt to confiscate more than $32 million in fish taxes from about 50 local governments. “What part of shutting down rural Alaska equates to Alaska is open for business,” Yakutat city and borough manager Jon Erickson asked at a hearing.
His attempt to cut school funding statewide by $330 million, which would have led to more than 3,000 teacher layoffs statewide, larger class sizes and school closures. The only reason that cut didn’t take place is that the Legislature blocked it by refusing to amend a bill passed in 2018.
. Dunleavy, who promised as a candidate that he would not cut education, said during the 2018 AFN convention that he wanted to increase spending on rural education. Despite a video that proves it, Dunleavy claimed to AFN that he had not told a Fairbanks church audience early in his campaign that some small village schools would have to be replaced by boarding schools in regional hubs to save money.
His attempt to dismantle the University of Alaska with a $130 million budget cut. Dunleavy and his staff presented phony statistics and no analysis about the impact on higher education. Pressured by the recall, he reversed himself on $110 million of the cut, but the university system remains in a crisis because of his incoherent approach to government.
His attempt to eliminate the Alaska Marine Highway system. Dunleavy, who promised as a candidate that he would not cut ferry service, claimed after the election that the marine highway system was an operation the state could no longer afford. As former temporary budget director Donna Arduin put it, “We think private operators can do better.”
His attempt to cut Medicaid spending by $700 million in state and federal funds over the next few years without a plan or analysis. The governor has been unable to give a good reason why Alaska plans to refuse hundreds of millions in federal money that pays for health care for low-income Alaskans.
His attempt to wipe out the Power Cost Equalization Fund and accounts for state scholarships. The only reason these endowments survived is that a super-majority of legislators blocked him.
At the 2018 AFN convention, Dunleavy was asked: “Does your plan for leading Alaska out of this fiscal crisis include additional cuts to state departments? If so, which departments? And specifically, which programs and how much do you intend to further cut?” Dunleavy said he would make things more efficient to save money “before we really get into talking about any reductions in terms of cuts in programs first.”
Dunleavy mentioned one specific cut to AFN last year, saying he would do away with “a fast rail study from Palmer to Anchorage, where I live, in the valley. We don’t need to be paying $4.5 million for a fast rail study at this point when we need money for Troopers. We need money for prosecuting attorneys. So I’ll be looking at those items first before we really get into talking about any reductions in terms of cuts in programs first.” (He couldn’t cut the fast rail study as it was never funded. It was a proposal by the Walker administration that was rejected by the Legislature after he quit the Senate to run for governor.) For months Dunleavy cited this as one of his few specific budget cuts.)
When Dunleavy announced his vetoes in June, it was clear that he had paid no attention to the hundreds of hours of legislative committee meetings and the thousands of public comments from Alaskans. He went back to his original February budget, which had no public involvement in its creation, fashioned by the temporary budget director without regard for Dunleavy’s campaign promises or the opinions of Alaskans.
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